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Nick Langelotti


Small tips to help make snowboarding a "funner" experience from your PT who has a snowboard problem
by: Nick Langelotti, PT, DPT
Having taught snowboarding prior to grad school and all throughout grad school, there are many common things I have seen amongst beginners and seasoned riders alike. Whether your just getting into riding or find yourself getting puckered on the steeps, the purpose of this article is to offer small 'tid bits' that could make your experience snowboarding in these wonderful hills just a little better.


Nick Langelotti

Body position
Seems simple right? More often than not I see people on the hill getting this wrong. When riding, keep the word "stacked" in the back of your mind. What does that mean? Knees stacked on top of ankles, hips stacked on top of knees and shoulders stacked on top hips. Most people open their shoulders towards the hill too much while riding which results in increased pressure distribution on the back leg...which we don't want. This is discussed further down. So keep your body stacked and just look where you are going with your head...not your body.

Snowboard  falling

You WILL fall
Falling is inherently a part of the snowboarding evolutionary process. Once you accept this, you will get better. Learning how to do so will go a long way on keeping you sliding down the hill rather than cutting your winter short. Despite our body's natural inclination to reach for the floor when we're going down, you want to do your best to NOT do this. Wrist, Elbow, and Shoulder injuries are amongst the most common in snowboarding and these all usually result from reaching down during a fall. Bring those ARMS IN and do your best to let your torso take the brunt of the fall. Shakira is right, "hips don't lie," so let your backside take the hit, roll out and keep on going! And don't get discouraged! Falling means your trying something outside of your comfort zone, and well...that's just awesome!


Arguably the most important piece of equipment in my mind in terms of fit, having your boots dialed makes a big difference while sliding down the hill. The big thing we're looking for here is to have boots nice and tight. How tight you ask? Your shin should be flush against the liner and tongue of the boot and your toes should be grazing the front of your boot. So pull those laces, BOAs, quick laces or whatever you got and make those puppies SNUG. A boot that fits well translates to a responsive ride. When your boots are fitting well when you go to flex your ankle, knee and/or hip this movement is directly translated to your board which means less work for you and it allows your board to do what it's supposed to.


high backs
"High" what? The often neglected portion of our bindings, the highbacks, are an important part making snowboarding easier. Adjusting the forward lean on your highbacks on your bindings does 2 important things:
1) Bend those knees! -By increasing the forward lean on your highbacks your force your ankles and knees into a more "flexed" position. By having increased flexion in your ankle and knee you're in a more athletic position allowing you to adjust to the terrain more easily as it comes at you and initiate movements quicker. So get those highbacks leaning a little more forward and you'll be happy you did!
2) Responsive...again -Increasing the forward lean on your highbacks increases the responsiveness of your ride as well. As mentioned before, with highbacks leaned forward, the increase in ankle and knee flexion puts you in a position where less movement is required to engage your toe edge and heel edge. Again, snowboarding...made easier! Woo!


Nick Langelotti

Board performance concepts - Pressure, Tilt, Twist, Pivot
Without getting too technical here, there are 4 things your snowboard can do - Pressure, tilt, twist and pivot. Well only focus on 2 of the 4 here as they seem to be something every rider can work on!
Pressure refers to weight distribution between the front foot and the back foot. One of the most common mistakes people have is they'll have too much pressure on there back leg. In doing do, you are really limiting your riding and not using your whole edge effectively. Turns should be initiated with flexion of your front foot's ankle and this requires maintaining pressure on that front foot. Our natural tendency while descending down a hill is to lean away from it, I'm asking you to resist that. You got it!
Twist refers to our snowboards ability to torsional flex. Huh? Try this, while standing strapped in push down on your front forefoot and then pull up with your other. See what your board is doing?!?! It's twisting! Awesome! Why is this important you ask? By utilizing twist you can take your riding to the next level allowing for edge engagement with your front foot first, and then you can follow that movement with your back leg resulting a "surfeyer" ride and more control. Once you understand this concept it becomes much easier for you ride the terrain in front of you, rather than the other way around.

As much as I like a good bull ride, I'd rather be riding than taken for a ride. So get on that front foot, drive that front knee forward and feel your edge engage right's a pretty cool feeling.


Lastly, well keep it real simple with this one - LOOK WHERE YOU WANT TO GO! This is a universal truth in my mind, but regards to riding it can be very helpful. While descending down the hill, mellow or steep, people have a natural tendency to look down said hill. Yeah, don't do that. Instead, looking where you're going with your turn will be especially helpful in keeping your body stacked and in a position of more control!
Oh actually, last thing here --- Have fun! Snowboarding is fun, don't forget it! Any chance to strap in and ride is one to be thankful for. Yay Snowboarding! Any other questions or if you do find yourself getting hurt on the hill, feel free to give me a shout



About the aurthor:

Nick Langelotti, PT, DPT
Snowboard Instructor, USSnowboard Medical Team


Check out Nick's other page centered around Snowboarding Exercises





Zach Doleac

Zach Doleac

Zach Doleac


zach Doleac


Zach Doleac


Photo Credit:
Zach Doleac
Nick Langelotti

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